ROBERT BARRON CITIZEN
The importation of contaminated soil to a site next to Shawnigan Lake must stop immediately after a ruling by the B.C. Supreme Court that was released Monday, says Jon Lefebure.
Lefebure, chairman of the Cowichan Valley Regional District, was responding to a ruling by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Brian MacKenzie that local CVRD bylaws prohibits the establishment of a contaminated landfill on Stebbings Road.
“I’m not a lawyer, but what I’m reading in this ruling is that the companies involved have to stop the importation of contaminated soil at that site immediately,” Lefebure said.
“The court has ruled that bringing this soil into the site is not allowed under our bylaws and I hope the ruling, which is clear and logical, will be observed. But, of course, there’s the B.C. Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada, and I expect the companies involved may decide to go there and appeal this decision.”
The ruling, which was made after an 11-day hearing in Victoria before Christmas, confirmed the district’s long-standing contention that local bylaws prohibit a contaminated soil landfill facility on property adjacent to Shawnigan Lake where Cobble Hills Holdings Ltd. and South Islands Aggregates Ltd. has established their controversial soil-dumping site.
Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party, said the ruling vindicates the concerns raised by the district and other concerned parties.
“I look forward to reviewing this ruling and working with local politicians and residents to ensure that we continue to move this issue forward in a way that protects the rights of the Shawnigan Lake community,” he said.
Aurora Faulkner-Killam, a lawyer from the Victoria-based law firm Cox Taylor, which represents Cobble Hill Holdings, confirmed that the company is likely to appeal the decision.
She said the judge has not ordered the cessation of all activities at the site, but just some aspects related to land filling.
“The next step is likely an appeal of the decision, but no decisions have been made by the company as to how to respond at this time.”
A judicial review of the project that was instigated by the Shawnigan Residents Association has recently concluded in the B.C. Supreme Court, but it’s not known when a verdict will be reached in that case.
In the meantime, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Robert Sewell has made a commitment to the SRA to make a decision “as soon as possible” on the association’s application to have work on the site stopped until the court makes a final decision on the judicial review and the future of the project.